Saturday, August 30, 2008

Examining assumptions

Rasa jelak bila baca kenyataan2 popular di media. Kadang2, kenyataan ini diburungkakaktuakan dan diperbesarkan - usually by the media people - tanpa mengambilkira konteks, asal usul, dan assumption yang mendasarinya. Here's an example.

=============
Utusan Malaysia, 30 Ogos 2008
Jangan rampas mandat rakyat – PM
KUALA LUMPUR 29 Ogos – Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hari ini menempelak percubaan pihak tertentu untuk menggugat kestabilan negara dengan merampas kuasa secara tidak sah tanpa mandat majoriti rakyat...
=============

Yes, I'd agree be pissed off too if someone try to hijack the majority decision. However, the emotional outburst is warranted only if the 'mandat majoriti' valid in the first place. I think this is assumption with which the 'pihak tertentu' is not convinced. Corruption, vote rigging, gerrymandering, dodgy electoral processes, and so on may invalidate the 'mandat majoriti'. If the mandat majority was obtained illegally or immorally, then it is only fair to give it to the one who won it legally and cleanly. The popular vote, i.e. total votes casted in all constituencies, suggests there is a reason to question the validity of the mandat majoriti.

Masih panas terasa

Yes... they're still hot to the touch. I've just printed my first year report. Finally I've added all that I want to add. I have to brace myself and embrace Jo Gilman's (at Professional Development course) mantra: good enough is good enough. Well, I think my report is good enough. In terms of content.

This weekend I shall spend some time to go over them again: proof reading and making sure the references are cited properly so that the report is really good enough. As for now, feeding time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Me, a politician?


I'm stuck being a politician for a few weeks now. That's me celebrating the 18,908 points that I scored on Word Challenge within Facebook. My closest competitor is gaining on me.
I've been justifying the time that I spent on this game as "stimulating the brain cells that are responsible for verbal production". Yes, a petty excuse. I used this game to 'prime' me to write my report. Well, maybe I AM a politician!

BBQ at home

For the first time, my housemates and I joined up to have a BBQ. The (lack of) plan was to have a BBQ. The details were forced upon us as the deadline beckoned nearer. The BBQ was supposed to start at 1, and at 10:30 I had to used coercion to make sure the meat (which are still at the shop) would find their way to our kitchen. This was so very different from the Malaysian way. For the BBQ day the other day (the day Msia won silver medal at the Olympics), some people bought the meat TWO days BEFORE the event. Aiyoooo... make do with what available jer la. No chance to make satay, what. So, here's what we had instead.





















The salad potato is surprisingly tasty. The beef is very chewy. I think I burned a few hundred calories simply by trying to chew the beef. (That's why I said you have to marinate the beef overnight!!!) The liver was ok, but not so much flavour.















That's chicken, marinated in Nando's Lime & Cilantro. I don't have the pics of the lambs though. Thay are the best - melt in the mouth. Pity, it could have had better seasonings.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tentang Permatang Pauh

Jalan meniti di permatang
padi di kepuk siapa punya
tuan seru kami datang
undi di tangan usah ditanya

Buah pauh dihiris-hiris
di hujung lidah terasa masam
bibir cuba tersenyum manis
kelat di hati membawa muram

Kiri parit kanan pun parit
tali air berpanjangan
kiri perit kanan pun perit
fikir kami celaruan

Pandang selalu pada tanah
budi sedikit perlu ditambah
air dibendang jangan melimpah
yang menang dapat amanah
yang kalah bermuhasabah
yang mengundi mencari maruah

Angin lalu padi pun tunduk
beralun-alun seluruh kawasan
bukan menempah nasib Pak Kaduk
Mat Jenin bangun menempa wawasan

Fuel price lowered?

NST: 2008/08/27

Fuel price may be lowered further

BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR, WED:
The government may further reduce the price of fuel according to global oil prices to help the people, said Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Jelaing Mersat.

===========

Oh NO!!!!!!! Please don't lower the price of fuel! Please NOOOOOOOOOO! The people don't need help. They do quite well even after the 40%+ price increase. Nobody starved to death - petrol and diesel are not staple food.

I can't bear to think that the government is going to shoulder the burden of subsidy. So many billion ringgits will be used to subside fuel if the price is lowered. Please... please don't lower the price.

diversions

Procrastination, like constipation, is a pain in the ***. When you have to write a report, for example, there are lots of other things that cropped up and climbed the pole of priority. Well, I'm sure the defence mechanism would kick in and justify me indulging in the diversions. Once such diversion last long weekend was painting.

It has been a long while since I painted using acrylic - or using any other material at that. Using cheaply bought materials, here's what I produced last weekend. The obejct of inspiration is a Royal Doulton vase that I bought in Stoke a few months ago.





















First coat of paint. Looks too plain.





















I added red on top of the yellow. Now we're talking.























Added a different yellow hue on top of the red. Hmmm... need to tweak it some more. Just like my first year report... seems like a never ending tweaking job.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

taking a break from writing my report

Kucantikkan kulit kutambah hiasan
bertambah elok di pandangan
kuselit kutampal kucubitkan
padat isi yang kuidamkan

Sibuk-sibuk mengira patah
kata dirangkai bersusah payah
jalan cerita yang nak dipersembah
berlebihan lagi mengundang lelah

Isi yang padat kulit yang cantik
mana dahulu yang nak dipetik
telinga panas bagai dijentik
jari menari bertambah lentik

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Change of Air

Alhamdulillah, there is some progress on the first year report. Going to the library seemed to do the trick. Perhaps the change of venue stimulated the parts of the brain responsible for writing. I regained the focus.

But now, I have to take a break. My tummy is diverting my focus to something else.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ramadhan Mubarak

Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan Mubarak.

Moga amalan di tahun ini lebih baik dari tahun sebelumnya

... lebih banyak rakaat tarawih
... lebih banyak rakaat witir
... lebih banyak tilawah dan tadarrus
... lebih banyak bacaan tafsir
... lebih banyak sedekah
... kurangkan dengar lagu2 cinta
... kurangkan mengadap hiburan di televisyen
... kurangkan dengar lagu2 raya yg menggalakkan pembaziran (pakai serba baru... tunjuk pada tamu: riak sungguh!)
... kurangkan makanan yang tak elok untuk kesihatan (gula, lemak dan garam)

Asik komplen harga barang naik....amalan soleh kita bila nak dinaikkan? Rebutlah






Saturday, August 16, 2008

Impian
















No, that's not Proton's Impian. This is MY impian. BMW 318i ES, 2003 model. I saw this in Autotrader selling for $6450. Of course, if I were to buy another car for taking back home, I'll be buying it in another year or so. By that time, the price of 2003 models would decrease to within my budget. So far, this is an impian. Not sure whether it will be a reality or not.

When I know that I had to go to the UK, I've set in my mind that I want to buy a car. And indeed I have achieved that. Not that I want to go to the UK to buy a car. Rather, BECAUSE I had to go to the UK, I might as well buy a car.

But, again, one year is a long time. Things can change. I can give my impian with someone else. In fact, I've already talked to her about the likelihood. An impian with a higher priority than the car is buying a landed house. Tak de la susah2 Marwan panjat tangga naik rumah nanti. Kan?

Friday, August 15, 2008

too good to pass

Below is an exerpt from a news article "Teachers in molest claims" (The Star, Friday 15 August 2008) written by NELSON BENJAMIN.
=================================

In the other case in Kluang, several Year 6 pupils lodged separate reports after being molested by their 27-year-old teacher, allegedly since March this year.

In one case, the teacher had offered a 12-year-old pupil a ride in his car to attend Friday prayers but took him to a secluded area instead and molested him and tried to sodomise him.

The boy managed to fight him off and demanded to be sent home.
=================================

Well... you might have formed your own responses to this article already. But, let me give mine anyway. A 12-year old boy managed to fight off a sodomy attempt by a 27-year old male teacher.
(1) the age gap is 15 years. Not a 23 vs 61 years difference exactly. But, in the former case, one is a boy and the other is a man.
(2) the boy is in a very vulnerable situation. Teacher-student and adult-child dyadic combo would put the child at the mercy of the allegged assailant. Whereas, being a volunteer for an election campaign, one is hardly risking much by refusing to follow the whims of the elder person.

So, my conclusion is that this BOY is more of a MAN than that 23 year old XY-cromosome bearer.

Of course, this conclusion would be invalid if:
1) the boy is actually bigger than the teacher
2) Doraemon came to the rescue of this boy at the right time
3) the boy can morph into a Power Ranger

My Avatar













I was doing some cuci mata at Han's flickr and was seduced to do the above avatar. Don't look much like me. May be I should draw my own potrait? (hehehe... bought acrylic paint, brushes, and canvas today)

Olympic Victory

In a land far far away from Beijing, a huge match unfurled this morning. The match was between 'Report Writing' and 'Olympics'. Today, Olympics walloped Report Writing. Olympic 1 - Report Writing 0.

*sigh*

Monday, August 11, 2008

smoke on my head

Kepala hampir berasap......

Alhamdulillah, I can finally see the conclusion of my work on the third essay on Emergency Medical Services. It had taken way too long. To be fair to me, its not easy to pin down something that (1) is alien to me, and (2) keeps changing.

I was stumped to the exact number of Ambulance Services in England. My labmate said there are 13. My own search on NHS Confederation publication yielded 12. How difficult is it to count big organisations like that? Why the discrepancies. Another labmate was not very optimistic as well. What he said makes sense: the number that I chose to put in my essay would most likely be outdated by the time I finish my PhD. That's how fast-changing things are in the healthcare sector in England.

The third essay would feature as Chapter 4 in my first year report. I hope I can have the report ready by the end of this week. If I achieve that, it means I would have two weeks to proof read and revise the report.

As it stands, I have over 30 pages already - EXCLUDING Chapter 4 and Chapter 5. In terms of number of words, there are close to 9,000 words. The limit for the report is 10,000. Chapter 4 alone is more than 2,000 words. That means I would have to cut down somewhere. So, I REALLY REALLY hope to finish writing the report by the end of this week. I would need the weeks after that to pare down the report.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Graduation

Congratulations Mak Tam on your graduation and convocation. We are very proud of you. Now we have one more graduate in the family. May your success pave the ways for more success in the future and hereafter.

Doa ayah, Marwan juga berjaya dalam menuntut ilmu. Moga jadi insan yang bijak dan matang.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Khatam

Alhamdulillah.... 'projek' yg telah memakan masa bertahun2, akhirnya tamat juga. A few days ago, ayah khatam terjemahan al-Quran. I hope you will do it much faster than I did. There's a lot to be learned, felt, and perceive from the translation.

A running theme is about truth and its acceptance. My view on good vs evil is changed. 'Bad' people are those who see the truth, but either deny, reject, mock, or hinder other people from seeing it. These are the people to whom the Hell is promised. Personally, this contrast between good and bad is very different from what I've learned so far in my life. It feels less harsh. Less judgemental. Makes it feel easier to embrace all other teachings of Islam.

At the same time, I've also witnessed first hand some sample behaviour of the 'bad' people. One guy said that even if he know Islam leads to good behaviour, he would not embrace Islam. There's no need, he said. Another guys, quite tellingly, said that he does not believe in paranormal (including mu'jizat, I surmise) even if he sees it with his own eyes. So, I've seen examples of the behaviour described in the Quran.

Will share more on this with you.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Just for fun

Disclaimer: Not for stereotyping, being racist or anything. This is just a play on words that happens to refer to nations and nationalities.

Heard at a talk in Sabah: Do you know what happen when a Bruneian and a Dusun got married? They get a B(e)rudu.

That's the original. And here's my own list.

Yahudi + Hindu + Komunis = yahoo.com

Scotland + Denmark = Skodeng

Jerman + UK = Jeruk

Bangladesh + Angola = Bangang

Serbia + Senegal = Sengal

Kazakhstan + Pakistan = Kapak

Solomon Island + Somalia = So so

Afghanistan + Burundi = AFUndi

Melayu + Luxumberg

Korean + Texan = Kotex

Apachee + Panama = Apa Nama

Namibia + Egypt = Najib
Najib + Mongolia = (result pending verification from court proceedings)

Togo + Tonga = Toto

Tajikistan + Tanzania = Tata

China + Sri Lanka = Chilaka
Chilaka + Sulu = Chilaka Lu

And finally, when the B(e)rudu grows up, he will show neither the Bruneian and Dusun parantage. Instead, he will manifest characteristics of Kadazan and Batak .

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Manchester trip















Near Arndale shopping mall.















The natural and artificial
















I sawa few ladies, but the house is no barn.
















My attempt to pose in front of Manchester United's stadium




















I think my car poses better than I.
















Here's another attempt at competing with my car. This time, the venue is Manchester City's stadium.
















This picture would be perfect if there's an excited boy posing in front of the machine.




















I found the buildings in Manchester are charming. The newer buildings seem to be heaviloy influenced by cubism. Would love to go again and take pictures of the urban landscape.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Productive Weekend

Got back from Manchester last night. Thank you Harun for being my host. If not for his hospitality, I wouldn't have been able to publish two, yes - TWO, new blogs.

The first is SA Scholarly. It is a blog that focuses on my PhD works. The 'SA' stands for 'situation awareness' - the main variable in my research.

The second one, Ergo+Psyc, is meant, among others, for my students at IIUM. I would have to say thanks to Miss Lord Voldermort and my colleague at Pax Islamica for giving me the idea and courage to produce this blog.

So, those are two more blogs for you my dear. Hope you can understand me better from these two 'new' angles.

With three blogs running, I'd need to manage my activites more efficently then. So, back to work. I'll update this blog (II) with pics from Manchester as a reward to myself once I've finished writing about ECPs and EMAS.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

another therapy

I've been experiencing a downtime. Since coming back from Cambridge and attending the Family Day, I was under the weather most of the time. I've tried a few therapies to get back on my feet and running towards the deadline of my first year report.

I've tried singing theraphy. Berkaraoke sampai pukul 2 pagi. Sampai berpeluh2. Tambah pulak ada geng yg menimbulkan semangat... makin berkobar2 nyanyi.

I've tried retail therapy. I bought a few things for my next house. The most notable purchase is a Royal Doulton vase. I wanted to buy a dinner ware set, but my heart still belong to Corelle.

I've tried herbal therapy. I drank a herbal cough syrup straight form the bottle.

I've tried relaxation therapy. I avoided work as much as possible. hehehehe

But my condition has not improved 100%. There's still a nagging coughing. My nose is still not clear.

So today, I want to try vacation therapy. Maybe I need some me-time. I'm heading to Manchester for the weekend. Hope that this mini vacation will have enough dosage to put me back on track to do some real PhD work.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Indahnya Sesaat - extension

Indahnya sesaat itu
memberiku upaya
terbang walau tak bersayap
walau hanya seketika

And you, my dear
is the biggest reason of all
for me to fly without wings

The Automatic Millionaire

I finished reading ‘The Automatic Millionaire (David Bach, Broadway Books) that I borrowed from Mazrah on 13 July 2008. Parts of the book are refreshers, parts of it are new, if not an eye opener. On the whole, it helps me to reaffirm my resolution to achieve financial independence.
There are some common ideas that are found in most consumer finance book s. The main ideas in this book are

1. Pay Yourself First
2. make it automatic
3. be a home owner
4. be debt-free
5. do give back

Now, most of these ideas are oft repeated in get-rich books. I can almost hear Azizi Ali’s voice while reading David’s book. Idea number 2 is the most refreshing idea. It really convincing that you can be a millionaire WTHOUT earning a lot of money, without a budget, without willpower, and without discipline. There is an automated way to be a millionaire.

Reassuringly, as I found in chapter 3, I’ve already embarked on the automated way to pay myself first. The idea is to set aside a portion of my income for retirement i.e. making a payment for me when I am less able to do work or choose not to work. David suggested making a contribution to a 401 (k) plan. I believe, the equivalent in Malaysia is the EPF. So, without realising it – that’s why it is called ‘automatic’ – I’ve been contributing 11% of my gross income towards my retirement. In David’s scheme of things, that percentage would put me in the Middle Upper Class.

Before I get carried away congratulating myself, I have to remind myself of the unmet assumptions. First, I’m not earning 10% return on my money in the EPF. Last year, the dividend was less than 5%. So, my money would grow slower. Last time that I check, I have less than RM100,000 in my two EPF accounts. The amount would have been more if I had not withdrew some for buying an apartment. Here’s the second unmet assumption: the pay yourself money should not be used unless in an emergency. Effectively, I have accumulated less than 11% of my earnings in the fund. So, my plan of action is to top up the amount. I could save up here in the UK and pay myself first in pound sterling! Now the HSBC Amanah savings account seems more and more interesting. But, as David advised, maybe I should keep my eyes open for the money market account.

Alhamdulillah, I AM a homeowner. Part of the motivation for making my first property is to have something for Marwan. With the MRTA on the loan, Marwan would be entitled to the property if I pass away before paying off the loan completely. And, currently, the apartment is rented out. Alhamdulillah, the tenant is hyper punctual in making payment. The action that I need to take is making speed up the repayments. Last year I made one extra payment. But that was motivated by the late payment by the payroll unit. With the rental money that I receive, I can afford to pay at least RM300 extra each month. Now, I have to ask Mahadhir to email me the details of my loan account so that I can proceed with the payments. I am also on the lookout for a second property, preferably a ‘landed house’ – for October 2010.

Before coming to the UK, I made arrangements to reduce my debts. I sold my Kancil; and with it went the remaining 2 years worth of loan. Now, Eddrus have bought the car, and he promised to make monthly payment to me. With the BMW 316i bought debt-free, I’m a net lender with respect to cars. As for credit cards, the debts were taken care a few months after I set foot in the UK. I asked abah to make repayment to my Ambank and HSBC credit card accounts – using my own money, of course. Now I don’t have any credit card balances, Alhamdulillah.

During a spell of ‘credit scare’, the monthly balance on the credit card statement was big enough to make me afraid of looking at it. Alizi advised me to take a personal loan, which I acquired from Bank Islam, to lessen the severity of the situation. A month ago, the 7-year personal loan has been paid off in less than 4 years. Alhamdulillah.

As far as ‘giving back’ is concerned, I’ve been giving back through zakat payment. I have set up a monthly salary deduction for the zakat payment. So, it is automatic. Overall, I have a good foundation to be a millionaire at retirement age. To be financially independent before retirement, I have to strengthen my defence, and boost my offence.

Indahnya Sesaat

Sesaat itu
bukan dirancang untukk
utapi terancang untuk aku menemui makna
pada sesaat itu

Tangkap sesaat itu
menjelma pada latar pudarnya mata
sesaat itu matahari

pada getar suara
yang lunak pada jiwa
sesaat mengingat semula
pada indahnya dunia
untuk ditatap
dengan mata bercahaya

ingatlah pada sesaat yang ditangkap
jika kelam mengancam
menundukkan mata ke kegelapan

indahnya getar suara itu
bukan dirancang untukku
lalu tiada rancangan dariku
memanjangkan sesaat
menjadi sepanjang hayat

(see also Merahnya strawberi post)